I’ll never forget my first pantry in the first house we purchased. *sigh* I still drool over it to this day because of the space and storage that pantry provided. Every house since that time has had to measure up, but let’s just say that not all pantry’s are created equal. If you have a large pantry, small pantry, or even no pantry at all, there are solutions to maximize your space.
First thing I’m going to address is the no pantry house…. gasp! I know, I know, but believe it or not, not all houses had a pantry because there really wasn’t a need. Think about it- very few things were pre-packaged back in the day. Grocery shopping was done almost daily, still is in some cultures, and the meals prepared fresh. The need was more for refrigeration and freezing than dry goods storage. If you happen to live in a house with no pantry and you really want one, I suggest using a piece of furniture for something other than it’s intended purpose. Or even a piece of furniture that can also double as another work surface if you’re lacking counter space too. Friends of ours have used a neighboring coat closet and turned it into a pantry since in the south, coats aren’t needed as often. I personally thought this was brilliant.
When we first moved to South Carolina, we rented a townhouse until we figured out where we really wanted to live. Let me tell you, it had the TINIEST pantry. (You done been shrunk tiny pantry.) It was narrow and made it very difficult to navigate around and that’s when we had to get creative with our space. The first thing we did was empty the pantry completely out, bought new containers for food we bought all the time, and labeled everything. We also utilized shelving racks to split spaces in half and provide more storage.
The new system made use of the limited space while allowing us to see exactly what we had at all times. No more guess work, moving things around to get food, or forgetting that we had certain items.
When we moved to the new house, our pantry didn’t get a whole lot bigger, but we used the same system and two years later it’s still working. The exception is with the new house that the pantry door is big enough to utilize the back of the door as storage as well. Adding hooks keeps the girls lunch boxes within quick reach.
When we get back from the grocery we like to break everything down. Food that can come out of their packaging they are put them in their proper containers or baskets. That alone makes putting the groceries away a breeze; everything has a home. It also takes the guess work out of knowing if we’re out of something or getting close and need to add it to the grocery list. (Who hasn’t had a box of disappointment when they reached for their favorite snack only to find the box empty?) The wire racks are a standard in most houses and to make ours more of a flat surface, we used left over floor tile from when we resurfaced cabinet floor under the sink. It provided a sturdy surface for our canned goods.
Something else unexpected, we turned a magazine holder into a aluminum foil/wax paper/ cling wrap and paper lunch bag holder.
The plan is to group like things together and putting them in their spots based on the frequency of use. I’m vertically challenged, aka short, so having items in front of me that I use all the time makes more sense. Items we don’t use as much go higher in the pantry. We also put things like the kids snacks at a level that helps them to become more self sufficient. (And helps me to not constantly be fetching the kids snacks.)
Now, for those that are able to have the mecca of all pantry’s, I bow to you. Think big rooms, with shelving and drawers. Let’s take a moment…
The shelving, the space, the multifunction of it all! A girl can dream can’t she?!?! I am extremely envious of people who have this, but even though there is a lot of space to play with, it’s just as important to be deliberate so it doesn’t become the dark hole for lost things AND food.
No matter what your situation is, the most important piece of advice I can give is think outside of the box, or in this case, pantry. See through containers are especially helpful and labels are their best friends. Use all the space up, down and sideways to get the most out of the storage that you can have.